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So you decided to visit a new country for the very first time!  Where to go? What to see? It is always an exciting, yet hard decision. Of course, Japan is no exception.  Although it is a small country, it is also hugely diverse and has so much to offer. So, let’s see what attractions are particularly popular among tourists from abroad.

Tripadvisor has just published the 2016 edition of “Top 30 hot spots to visit for the foreign tourists“. Let’s see which 30 coolest places made the list this time. They were selected by the fellow tourists just like you, not a selection by the usual travel guides!

30. Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gassho-style houses [Gifu]

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Three villages of Hagimachi, Suganuma and Ainokura, and five valleys of Akaodani, Kaminashidani, Shimonashidani, Togadani and Otan of Gokayama make up Shirakawago, which became one of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1995.  The famous traditional “Gassho-style” houses with the tall, triangular shaped roofs are all the more impressive during the winter, covered with deep snow, creating a spectacular, out of this world atmosphere.

HP: travel.kankou-gifu.jp/en/

HP: travel.kankou-gifu.jp/tw/ (中文)

HP: www.kankou-gifu.jp/spot/1206/ (Japanese Only)

Address: 2495-3 Oaza-Ogimachi, Shirakawa, Ono-gun, Gifu (Google Map)

29. Kinosaki Onsen [Hyogo]

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Kinosaki is said to be the original “Onsen-hopping” site.  You will enjoy touring around its 7 outdoor hot springs, surrounded by an enchanting scenery which showcases its ever-changing charms of the four seasons.  It may become addictive and makes you want to come back again and again!  The first guest of the day gets a special memento, which is an extra attraction.

Open M-F 8:45am-6:00pm,  Sat. 9:00am-5:00pm, Sun & Holidays 9:00-3:00pm

Daily pass for unlimited access to all hot springs at ¥1200 (¥600 for children), available at the reception of each hot springs.

HP: www.kinosaki-spa.gr.jp/global/

HP: www.kinosaki-spa.gr.jp/global/trad-chinese/ (中文)

HP: www.kinosaki-spa.gr.jp/ (Japanese Only)

Address: Kinosaki-cho, Toyooka-shi, Hyogo  (Google Map)

28. Gear ART COMPLEX 1928  [Kyoto]

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Gear is a unique theater which offers a fun, non-verbal  entertainment with an eclectic mix of magic, dance, juggling etc.  Comical in one moment, touching inanother, it appeals to a wide range of audience, young and old, male or female.  It has become one of the biggest attractions which represent Kyoto at its modern best.

Open from 10:00am to 7:00pm

Admission fees vary depending on the program. Children under 3 years of age are not allowed.

HP: www.gear.ac/en/

HP: www.gear.ac/cht/ (中文)

HP: www.gear.ac/ (Japanese Only)

Address: 1928 build. 3F  56 Benkeiishi-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto (Google Map)

27. Samurai Museum [Tokyo]

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Located in Kabukicho, Samurai Museum was made especially for foreign visitors, introducing the typical culture of the traditional Japanese warriors.   You will enjoy not only the display of armors and helmets, but also have the chance to learn much about their history, which span over 700 years.

Open from 10:30am to 9:00pm.  Last admission at 8:30pm.

Admission: Adults ¥1800, Child ¥800 12 and under, free for children 3 and under.

HP: www.samuraimuseum.jp/en/index.html

HP: www.samuraimuseum.jp/ (Japanese Only)

Address: Eiwadai 6 bldg. 1-2F, 2-25-6, Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo  (Google Map)

26. Kyoto Station Building [Kyoto]

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The ultra-modern Kyoto station building was designed by Koji Hara, and was inaugurated in 1997.  The main atrium opens up to the sky with its 4000 glass panes.  You won’t be able to tear your eyes away from the incredible spaciousness and the grand staircase which leads up to the top floor.  The building is packed with shops, department stores, restaurants, and a hotel, so you can easily spend hours inside.

Hours vary, each shop and restaurants keep its own hours.

HP: www.kyoto-station-building.co.jp/english/

HP: www.kyoto-station-building.co.jp/chinese_traditional/ (中文)

HP: www.kyoto-station-building.co.jp/index.htm (Japanese Only)

Address: Higashishiokoji Kamadono-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-ku, Kyoto (Google Map)

25. Meiji Jingu [Tokyo]

Photo by Gary0801 on Flickr

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Like a huge green oasis in the middle of the modern hubbub of Harajuku, just 1-minute walk from the station, Meiji Jingu (or Meiji Shrine) has always been popular with tourists and locals alike. A visit of Meiji Jingu is said to bring a good luck of all sorts to the visitors.  Some of the most known legends are going through the O-torii (large red gate) will guarantee a good marriage, or touching the “Turtle Stone” will bring you happiness.  Why don’t you give it a try, and see if it will come true?  You never know!

Open: from sunrise to sunset.

Admission: Contribution of ¥500 for the maintainance of the garden, and ¥500 for the maintainance of the facility is requested.

HP: www.meijijingu.or.jp/english/index.html

HP: www.meijijingu.or.jp/ (Japanese Only)

Address: 1-1 Yoyogi Kamizono-cho Shibuya-ku, Tokyo  (Google Map)

24. Misen [Hiroshima]

Photo by kvn.jns on Flickr

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Famous in connection with the legendary monk Kobo-Daishi (a.k.a. Kukai), Mount Misen was given the nickname “a miraculous space”.  The vista from the top of the sacred mountain of 1755ft. is purely breathtaking.  You can reach the 1400ft. point with a ropeway gondola.  Enjoy the gorgeous view of the one and only Miyajima from this vantage point!

HP: miyajima-ropeway.info/en/miraculous-scenery/index.html

HP: miyajima-ropeway.info/ (Japanese Only)

Address: Miyajima-cho, Hatsukaichi-shi, Hiroshima (Google Map)

23. Lake Kawaguchi [Yamanashi]

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Located to the north of Mt. Fuji, there are Fuji Go-ko, or the Five Lakes of Fuji:  Kawaguchi, Sai, Yamanaka, Shoji and Motosu.  Only an hour and a half of travel from Tokyo, it is a perfect spot to admire the legendary mountain.  With the amusement park “Fujikyu-Highland” and ample choices of entertainment venue and shopping, Fuji-Go-ko area became hugely popular with holiday makers.

HP: www.fujisan.ne.jp/index_e.php

HP: www.fujisan.ne.jp/index_c.php (中文)

HP: www.fujisan.ne.jp/ (Japanese Only)

Address: FujiKawaguchiko-cho, Minami Tsuru-gun, Yamaguchi (Google Map)

22. Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route [Toyama]

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Tateyama has gained its fame with its massive vertical wall of snow along the road, and the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine route will not disappoint your expectation during the winter.  You will never forget the unique experience of traveling through the imposing white wall!  But not only during the winter, you will also find it extremely charming during the autumn, with the beautifully colored trees.  Regardless of the season, you are in for a memorable trip!!

HP: www.alpen-route.com/en/

HP: www.alpen-route.com/tw/ (中文)

HP: www.alpen-route.com/ (Japanese Only)

Address: 2 Bunazaka-Ashikuraji, Tateyama-machi, Nakaniikawa-gun, Toyama (Google Map)

21.Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium [Okinawa]

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Located in Motobu, you can admire the majestic whale sharks at the section “Exploring the Kuroshio-current” and many other amazing marine creatures at expositions such as “The Coral Sea” and “Journey to the Deep Six”.  They also offer dolphin shows at no extra charge, it became must-see for the visitors of Okinawa.  Free access to wheelchairs and baby buggies. 

Open from 8:30am to 20:00pm.  Last admission 19:00pm.

Closed on the first Wednesday and Thursday of December

Admissions: Adults ¥1850, High School student ¥1230, Elementary & Jr. High student ¥610.

HP: oki-park.jp/kaiyohaku/en/inst/73

HP: oki-park.jp/kaiyohaku/sc/inst/73 (中文)

HP: oki-park.jp/kaiyohaku/inst/73 (Japanese Only)

Address:  424 Ishikawa, Motobu-cho, Kunigami-district, Okinawa (Google Map)

20. Kenroku-en Garden [Ishikawa]

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Kenroku-en of Kanazawa, constructed during the Edo period (about 170 years ago), is considered as one of the three most notable gardens of Japan, along with Kairaku-en of Mito and Koraku-en of Okayama.  Kenroku-en is complete with all of the six necessities in a perfect garden, which are spaciousness, seclusion, artifact of men, antiquity, richness of water, and a sweeping vista.  It is perpetually popular with the tourists, who come to enjoy its seasonal beauty all around the year.

Open all year long. (except Shigure-Tei, the traditional tea house)

Admission: Adults ¥310, 6-18yrs old ¥100

HP: www.pref.ishikawa.jp/siro-niwa/english/top.html

HP: www.pref.ishikawa.jp/siro-niwa/t_chinese/top.html (中文)

HP: www.pref.ishikawa.jp/siro-niwa/japanese/top.html (Japanese Only)

Address: 1 Kenroku-cho, Kanazawa-shi, Ishikawa (Google Map)

19. Daihonzan Daisho-In [Hiroshima]

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Daihonzan Daisho-In is believed to be the oldest temple in Miyajima.  It is known for its connection with the greats of the Japanese history,  such as Hideyoshi Toyotomi and Hirobumi Ito.  The appearance of this temple may not be as extravagant as the better-known Itsukushima Shrine, Daisho-In offers you the chance to immerse yourself in its wonderful history.  Open to general public, to visit the inside the admission is ¥500. (Appointment required)

HP: www.galilei.ne.jp/daisyoin/ (Japanese Only)

Address: 210 Takimachi, Miyajima-cho, Hatsukaichi-shi, Hiroshima  (Google Map)

18. Asakusa [Tokyo]

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Photo by Fon-tina on Flickr

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The symbol of Asakusa is arguably Kaminarimon, the gateway to the Asakusa Shrine, with its unmistakable huge, red lantern at the center. Stroll along the Sumida River and through the bustle of Nakamise-Dori, which leads up to the famous shrine.  Experience the rickshaw, the taste of eel and Hanayashiki amusement park.  Asakusa, a perpetual favorite for many international tourists, is a world of its own!

Open: 6:00am-5:00pm (Apr. – Sept.)  6:30am-5:00pm (Oct. – Mar)

Open every day of the year.

HP: asakusa-kankou.com/ (Japanese Only)

Address: Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)

17. Narita-San, Shinsho-Ji [Chiba]

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The famous Shinshoji Temple was founded during the Heian Period, about 940 years ago. Apart from the main structure, you must check out the beautiful pagoda and the impressive Niomon gate.  It is a popular place of worship, and it is also known to be frequented by several celebrities, such as a famous Kabuki actor Kozaburo Ichikawa.  It is easily accessible from Narita International Airport, thanks to a direct connection by Keisei Railway. 

Free Admission

Open every day of the year

HP: naritasan.or.jp/pray/index.html (Japanese Only)

Address: 1 Narita, Narita-shi, Chiba (Google Map)

16. Shiratani Unsuikyo [Kagoshima]

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Shiratani Unsuikyo is famous as the location of the film “Princess Mononoke” by the great Hayao Miyazaki.  The climate of Yakushima, where this beautiful ravine is located, is said to rain “35 days a month,” and thanks to its moisture, the moss covers much of the scenery.  The mysterious atmosphere along the Shiratani River at the altitude of 2600-4200ft will take you right to the world of the famous animation. 

Admission: Contribution of ¥300 is requested for anyone 16 years old and up.  ¥250 for a group of 15 and more.

Open all year.  The passage may be closed due to a snowfall during the winter.

HP: www.kagoshima-kankou.com/for/

HP: www.kagoshima-kankou.com/tw/ (中文)

HP: www.kagoshima-kankou.com/guide/10740/ (Japanese Only)

Address: Ishizuka National Forest – Mt. Miyanoura, Yakushima-cho, Kumage-gun, Kagoshima (Google Map)

 

Next: No.15-1 Further Hottest Spots in Japan for International Visitors

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